Hugs and Kisses #46: Rude Mechanicals and Serpentone
Everett True is the "roving ambassador" of Plan B Magazine, an author of a bunch of rock books, a Wikipedia entry, a Sound of the City columnist, and a brand-new (again) resident of Australia. Ask him to send you a piece of the Great Barrier Reef at firstname.lastname@example.org. — The SOC towel girl
Hugs and Kisses
The Relocated Outbursts of Everett True
THIS WEEK: Portland, Oregon shenanigans
Wait a minute.
I want to write this week’s column about SERPENTONE. The cover to this Portland trio’s album Spiraling (why don’t Americans learn to spell properly?) features a woman playing guitar, hair flailing, head covered. I was intrigued when it showed up yesterday, mainly cos it’s now the only CD in my house and partly because it was sent by a lady who still bothers with handwritten letters. The music is an engaging, slightly naïve, take on the raw anger of Poison Girls, Babes In Toyland and yr nightmare Sixth Form anti-frat band: all vaguely obvious lyrics about vampire-ish, leeching boyfriends, Minivan Moms and S&M relationships, yellow belt level. I say it feels oddly naïve, especially as it looks to be dealing with the darker side of human relationships—but maybe that’s cos you can understand the words. (Hey, tip for all those looking to draw from Kat Bjelland’s still rigorously compelling exorcism: you can’t fucking understand the words. That’s the whole point.) That’s all to the good, though. The music is dirty, old school grunge, bluesy. Their MySpace page claims the band has been described as “Willie Nelson meets Nirvana” and “Neil Young meets the Dead Boys,” but frankly whomever described it as such is most-ways deaf. It is nothing of the sort. It is Portland OR rock music circa 1991, make no mistake. And yet Erika Meyer’s voice is quite something else: she often reminds me of the raw-throated polemic of Vi Subversa—especially in the lyrical structure—and sometimes, when she really reaches into herself, as on the blistering “Folding,” the unmatchable Thalia Zedek.
And then I noticed that all their photos had been taken by Rozz Rezabek, and I’m like, “Whoa dude, serendipity” or something, cos Rozz and I share quite a big something in our past, despite having never met (and never being likely to), and it seems that our musical preferences still collide a little in the present day…cos I’m really growing quite fond of this CD, even if it does sometimes come across as a little too obvious and a little too ‘amateur’ (whatever the hell that word means, and it sure don’t mean to me what it means to you) because that was always part of the appeal of The Poison Girls and, um, that former captivating rock band front-person turned infamous widow turned Z-list film star whose name escapes me right now, even if it does touch on the same damn chords being used in the dives and bars of NYC in 1975, and…hell, I don’t know what I’m trying to say, except…
Have you any idea how unusual it is for me to enjoy an unsolicited CD these days? And to want to hear it again? And then, as I type these words, another one appears—the Zappa/Beefheart theatrics of the free-moving RUDE MECHANICALS’ album Glass Eye (loads of drums played like percussionist is doing the washing up, and off-mic oboe, and the feeling that these folk surely have to be the same age as me because they love Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, Here And Now, Lindsay Cooper, Make Up and Skill 7 Stamina 12 just like me, surely?)…and you know how unusual THAT IS???
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